Thursday, March 18, 2010

Obama's MidEast Policy: Train Wreck

American Credibility at Stake in Showdown -Hillel Halkin

Four months ago, Israel and the U.S. concluded an argument regarding Israeli construction in the West Bank and former Jordanian Jerusalem with a compromise that neither government was particularly happy about: Israel reluctantly agreed to suspend all new construction in the West Bank for nearly a year, and the U.S. reluctantly accepted Israel's refusal to do the same in Jerusalem.

America made it clear that it considered the Israeli position enough of a concession to push the "peace process" forward and that it was willing to live with it. On that basis, the Netanyahu government declared a West Bank freeze and began to enforce it.

Now, America has reneged on its word.

Using the Ramat Shlomo incident as a pretext, it is demanding once again, as if an agreement had never been reached, that Israel cease all construction in "Arab" Jerusalem. Basically, it is saying: "We agreed to a compromise? So what if we did? Now you've insulted us and we're taking our agreement back."

This is a grave mistake. And it is gravest of all for the "peace process" that President Obama claims to be so eager to restart. The next time an American president asks Israelis to count on America, he might ask himself: Why on earth should they?
(New York Sun)

Peres: Israel Has Every Right to Build in Jerusalem

President Shimon Peres [said] that Israel reserved the right to build in Jerusalem and that Israel's construction policy in the capital has not changed in forty years.

This policy has never interfered with the peace process, he said. He added that Israel would continue this policy and called for a quick resumption of peace talks.

Tripping in Jerusalem -Allan Gerson

Israel's position may change during negotiations, but it seems delusional to believe that Israel can be forced to change its position on Jerusalem in advance of actual negotiations.
(Huffington Post)

How About an Arab "Settlement" Freeze? -Ruth R. Wisse

It is unfortunate that Arabs obsess about building in Israel rather than aiming for the development of their own superabundant lands.
(Wall Street Journal)

Obama Aggravates Israel's Mistake -Jeff Robbins

[T]he Obama administration...stayed conspicuously silent for 14 months while Mahmoud Abbas refused even to negotiate with Israel, without fear of any consequences.

The PA has in the last decade repeatedly rejected two-state solutions... committed to the destruction of any state of Israel, regardless of borders. This makes the Obama administration's position that settlements are the impediment to peace worse than silly.

When those who have long harbored the view that it is only a matter of time before the U.S. can be peeled away from Israel hear words that confirm their view, any incentive they may have had to make peace with Israel disappears and the incentive to be intransigent grows.

[W]hen the administration resorts to this sort of ugliness, it raises serious questions among Israelis and others about whether Obama can be trusted to protect the security of Israel.
(Boston Globe)

Was Obama's Confrontation Premeditated? -Yossi Klein Halevi

Ramat Shlomo will remain within the boundaries of Israeli Jerusalem according to every peace plan. By placing the issue of building in Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem at the center of the peace process, President Obama has inadvertently challenged the Palestinians to do no less.

Obama's demand for a building freeze in Jerusalem led to a freeze in negotiations. It is pique disguised as policy.

[T]he administration is demanding that Israel negotiate over final status issues in proximity talks as a way of convincing the Palestinians to agree to those talks - as if Israelis would agree to discuss the future of Jerusalem when Palestinian leaders refuse to even sit with them.

To the fictitious notion of a peace process, Obama has now added the fiction of an intransigent Israel blocking the peace process.
(New Republic)

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